Living In Two Worlds: Finding Yourself In A World of Many Cultures
By: Dilini Dharmawardana, AMFT
Nowadays, most people live straddling the line between two or more worlds. A lot of people are from two cultures and sometimes that is where a conflict comes in. When you’re parents are from a different culture than the one you live in, figuring out who you are can be difficult. We, oftentimes, don’t realize how much of a struggle it is for those straddling the line between two cultures to know themselves and to know where they belong. Finding where we belong in the world, helps us feel more connected to those around us.
One of the hardest parts of being a part of two cultures is figuring out the right mix of each culture or finding out whether you belong more to one culture over the other. So, how does the battle between the two parts turn out? One way that we find ourselves is by exploring our past and present and figuring out whether we fit into either culture. And sometimes we just know that we feel as though we fit into one culture more than the other. Take the time to explore both parts of yourself!
Another difficulty in living between two cultures is other people’s perceptions of us as being from another country when we’re not. Sometimes for people whose family is from another culture, a tough question to be asked is “where are you from?” For those of us who were born in the US, being asked where we are from can be tough because we are from the US and we don’t see ourselves as from another country. One way to handle this dilemma is to have a response prepared for when people ask you this.
One hardship that comes with being a part of two cultures is the struggle between speaking your family’s language or speaking the dominant culture’s language. Sometimes what happens is children start out speaking their family’s language, but when they go to school the dominant culture’s language prevails. For families that would like their children to continue speaking their family’s language, speaking the language at home and encouraging your child to respond in the language helps keep that language and culture alive.
When trying to find out who you are in this world of multiple identities, talking with your family and finding out more about your own culture is important. If you have the time, creating a family tree may be helpful because just by creating one you find out more about your family and who they are. Knowing who you are starts with knowing more about where you come from.
There are a lot of tough things about living in a country when your family is from another. The difficulty in finding out who you are when you’re in between worlds is difficult, but can be done. Take the time, energy, and patience to find out who you are in this crazy world consisting of many cultures! If you are comfortable straddling two or more worlds, then continue to straddle the line, but if you are not then find ways to discover where you belong using the details in this article or find your own way!